Maori Trade Mission Korea/Japan June 2016
This week I'm back in Wellington after a hectic trip to Korea and Japan with Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell MP
It was an honour to be asked by the Minister to join him and the Maori Trade Mission on their journey to Seoul, Tokyo and Sapporo where we met with a number of Government, commercial and cultural leaders.
It was great to meet with my counterpart Rep. Hong Il Pyo, Member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea and President of the Korea-New Zealand Friendship Group in his country. The Friendship Group visited New Zealand last year and it was long overdue for me to return the salutations.
It was also a pleasure to call on my 'Big Sister' Rep. Na Kyung-won Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Republic of Korea who also worked hard to support the Korea New Zealand Free Trade Agreement in the Korean National Assembly.
It was also poignant to remember the current and past service of the New Zealand Servicemen and women who have been a part of the UN and Joint Forces in Korea. 45 New Zealanders died in Korea during the Korean War from 1950-53 and it was a privilege to join with Minister for Patriots Hon Park Sung-choon of Korea and Minister Flavell in a wreath laying ceremony.
In Japan we met with a number of Japanese lawmakers including Deputy Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita, Member of the Japanese Diet, Parliamentary Vice-Minister Hidemichi Sato and former Minister for Agriculture Koya Nishikawa.
The Mission concluded in Sapporo, on the Northern Japanese Island of Hokkaido, where we met with leaders from the Ainu Community.
The Ainu people are a long-standing indigenous community in Japan with a unique culture separate to that of the rest of the population.
It was a pleasure to meet with the community leaders there and to get to know a little about their culture and way of life.
Overall it was a great journey across two of key trading partners in Asia and I thank all of those we met or assisted us with their support during the Trade Mission.